DHS awards contract for HR

The Homeland Security Department has awarded Rockville, Md.-based Orizon, Inc. an initial 1-year, $1.2 million contract to help design a human capital strategic plan.

The plan will outline the long-range "concept of operations" for human resources within the department, said the company's president and chief executive officer Romero van Bochove. The initiative is being undertaken with the DHS Office of the Chief Human Capital Officer.

That's needed, said company officials, because the Homeland Security Department was created a year ago by merging 22 disparate agencies taken from other federal departments with different policies and procedures. DHS now boasts about 180,000 employees.

Company officials said it's too early to say how a strategic plan, when it is finally developed, will determine what future systems the department could implement or use. Last year, DHS officials began working on designing a human resource system with one set of policies and a single payer system, and it's unclear when such a design will be finalized. The department also recently floated a policy proposal that would change employee salary levels and increases.

Elaine Lowry, Orizon's project manager, said that right now officials are looking at the cultural -- or people -- side of HR and how that fits into information technology.

Orizon will help the department "connect the dots" from an organizational development point of view, Lowry said.

"It's really to facilitate getting the bureaus together, getting conversations going and being able to really capture information around what is happening," she said. "And part of it too is to really have a corporate HR presence and to look at how you really bring such a large department together."

Lowry added that DHS has an opportunity to be a "showcase agency" in this case because it's not under the Title V federal code of regulations that deals with HR policies. "It's a new agency. It's a new day. They may have opportunities that just haven't been presented to other departments," she said.

Orizon, said van Bochove, has worked with several other federal agencies, including the Treasury Department, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the General Services Administration. Its core competencies include enterprise resource planning, application development work across a variety of platforms, data management and systems integration, he added.

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